by Dr. Lisa Merlo
As we continue to adjust to the challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are describing a great deal of frustration and anxiety related to the supervision of distance-learning assignments for their children. This is particularly challenging in families with multiple children (especially elementary-aged students who require 1-1 supervision to complete the work), those whose children have learning difficulties, and those where there are not enough electronic devices for all the children to be able to access all their online schooling “requirements.” Parents are devising complicated schedules and spreadsheets to keep track of the sign-in times, learning platforms, usernames and passwords, etc.
It can be overwhelming and exhausting—for both you and your children.
The schools have stepped up in a big way, quickly determining ways to completely overhaul the learning process to provide opportunities for “distance learning.” However, it is important to remember that they had virtually no notice and no experience with something like this. The teachers were given mandates to create content for the students, but everyone is still trying to figure out what makes the most sense, and some are having an easier time than others. In order to offer some perspective, it can be helpful to remember that—even in a regular 6-hour school day at a typical school—most elementary-aged children are only engaged in about 2 hours of actual academic instruction. A great deal of time is spent preparing to transition between activities, cleaning up, lining up, managing behavior, eating snack/lunch, playing at recess, storytime, and attending “special” classes like P.E. or visiting the school library. In fact, for families that actually homeschool their children, here are the daily requirements for instructional time:
Other Important Points to Remember
- This is an unprecedented situation—no one really knows what they are doing and everyone is just trying their best!
- Virtually all children in the USA are in the same boat, so when they return to school, everyone will require an adjustment period to get back on track.
- By this time in the school year, most of the academic content has already been delivered for most grades. The 4th quarter is primarily spent reviewing/consolidating learning, preparing for end-of-year performances, engaging in fun activities (field day, parties, learning games), and cleaning up the classroom to prepare for the next year.
- The primary purpose of the work being assigned to your children now is to keep their minds active and protect against the “summer slide” being increased by several months—if your children are mentally-engaged in other learning tasks, they will be fine even if they don’t complete all the assigned worksheets and tasks!
- Taking care of your own and your children’s emotional needs right now will have a MUCH more positive impact on them (both short-term and long-term) than any amount of academic effort that you and your children exert.
- Your children’s teachers love your children and want what is best for them. If the amount of schoolwork they are assigned is unrealistic in your home, please contact the teacher and let them know! Most will be more than happy to work with you on a plan that makes sense for your family.
Distance Learning/Virtual School Resources
- Alachua County Public School (ACPS) Log-in Assistance
- Alachua County School Closure Resources Facebook Page (Created by Alachua County Council of PTAs. Allows families to share information and resources while school is closed (particularly for parents of kids in ACPS)
- How to navigate Google Classroom
- How to Turn in Assignments on Google Classroom
- “Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic” Facebook Group: Obtain information and support from parents around the country attempting to manage parenting in the current environment.
- Free Meals for Alachua County Children/Teens (0-18)